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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Charade (08/14/08)

By Gerald Shuler


The pastor shifted his feet slightly and looked at me.

“And do you, Farina Bartel, take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband?”

“I do.”

I don’t recall hearing the words pronouncing us Man and Wife. I don’t even remember the pastor giving Greg permission to kiss the bride. All I remember is suddenly being a married woman. I had said “I do”. There was no more time to say “I don’t.” We would now be, for the rest of our lives, married.

We were pulling into the driveway of our new home. We were about to start our lifetime together. Now it was time to take off the masks we wore during the “Dating Charade”. Finally (I shuddered at this thought) I would learn what the man of my dreams was really like at home.

My girlfriends, some married and some not, had taken sadistic pleasure in telling me what marriage would be like. No one, they had said, is like they appear while dating. A date is required to be perfect at all times. A husband isn’t held by such high standards. A slob can act like a prince for awhile but when he gets home, the mask comes off and he’s back to being a slob.

Maybe they were joking… I don’t know. Right now, though, walking up to a house with a man who was going to change into his real self in just a few moments, I was suddenly shaken to the core. What kind of man is Greg with the mask off? He seemed to be so kind, so thoughtful of her feelings while dating. His smile could warm an ice cube. The twinkle in his eye could brighten my darkest mood. But was this his real personality?

Visions of our future flashed through my mine. I could see myself, apron tied securely around me and four children holding on to my apron strings. Greg, beer in hand, played poker with his buddies… no smile, no twinkle. Occasionally, he would holler at me to bring another beer for him or one of his cronies. As I continue working in the kitchen Greg scratches his body in rude ways and flips the channel to the third football game of the day. There is no “us”. Just me and our kids and him and his buddies. No romance, no love, no joy. Never had I felt so alone than when I saw that picture of our future as we walked hand in hand toward our house. Was this what Greg would be like?

We reached the porch and Greg turned to me. “Well, here we are. Ready for this?”

Ready? Was he thinking the same thoughts that had me terrorized? Our marriage was only a few hours old. How could we both be so uncertain about each other? Ready? How can you get ready for all the unexpected things that is part of marriage?

“Well, ready or not” he said, “it’s time.” He swept me off my feet, literally, and held me in his massive arms as he carried me across the threshold of our home. His lips pressed mine and my heart melted. No, I hadn’t been ready for such a show of love.

Gently, he put me down and smiled. What a relief to see that smile. Ice would still melt. I looked into his eyes, desperately searching for the twinkle. Thank you, God! It was still there. Somehow, it was enough to let me know that the man I had fallen in love with, despite the scare tactics of my friends, was the same man who was now my husband.

“I love you, Greg.” I wrapped my arms around him, almost throwing him against the wall. “Promise me you will always be you.”

He looked puzzled. “Huh?” The look in his eyes was almost comical. “I’m sorry, Farina, but I’m the man you’re stuck with for the rest of your life.”

Good. That is exactly what I needed to hear. What a wonderful life we were beginning… I had a loving, intelligent, Godly husband that was exactly the way he had been as we fell in love. And he had a wife who…

My face must have gone ghostly pale. Truth hit me like a spotlight on a stage.

Greg was going to know what I am really like at home.

It’s time for me to change.

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This article has been read 1053 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Betsy Markman08/21/08
Nothing like marriage (and parenting) to show us ourselves, right?
Great job.
Lynda Schultz 08/21/08
I love how you tied this up—it is a two way street, isn't it. Very good.
Joanne Sher 08/22/08
What a great fit for the topic, and what an engaging read! Love those last two lines especially - and so realistic to get so caught in our own perceptions that we ignore others' of us. Nicely done.
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/24/08
I loved the line, "No more time to say 'I don't.'"
I was glad your mc's fears that her groom would suddenly turn into a thoughtless slob were not true. Her sudden realization was just the right way to end the story.
Betty Castleberry08/27/08
I chuckled out loud at the ending. I really enjoyed this. Good work.
Cheri Hardaway 08/27/08
I loved the internal dialog and how God revealed her own heart to her... Nice job, Cheri
Beth LaBuff 08/27/08
Your ending is such an eye-opener. I've always loved a good "pot calling the kettle black" story and this story is definitely a good one.
Yvette Roelofse08/28/08
I love this. I understand your MC's thoughts so very well! :D